Above painting: Louis Jean Francois - Mars and Venus an Allegory of Peace


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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica's Rebellion

Today is the day! I'm so thrilled to announce the release of an epic novel that has been long in the works: A Year of Ravens: A Novel of Boudica's Rebellion.

A Year of Ravens is told in 7 parts by myself and 6 authors of the H: Team! Just as with our award-winning collaboration last year, A Day of Fire: A Novel of Pompeii, was told in progressing parts, so is Ravens. I really think you'll enjoy it!

Below, I've shared an excerpt from my part, The Daughters, and I do hope you'll enjoy it!

Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Briton... and these are their stories.

A calculating queen foresees the fires of rebellion in a king's death.

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.

A conflicted young warrior finds himself torn between loyalties to tribe and to Rome.

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.

A pair of fiery princesses fight to salvage the pieces of their mother’s dream as the ravens circle.

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Britons who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?



My name means brave.
However, I was anything but, and I knew it.
“You have everything to fear of this world, Daughters,” my mother said as we hunched by the river, miles from the battlefield, our lathered horses greedily drinking up the offered water. The waning light of the setting sun surrounded us, and the cold was bitter. Tall grasses stirred in the breeze, batting wearily at my shoulders while only the occasional glimmer of light broke the sullen darkness of the waters, rippling when Mother dipped her hands into the depths. She cupped her hands, pulling the icy liquid to wash the blood from her face.
I never thought victory was possible. All through the thirteen years since my birth, our people had struggled against Roman edicts. No swords. No way to protect ourselves but to rely on the Romans. Thank the gods our hunters were good with arrows and slingshots. And thank the gods as well for mother’s insight, that she continued with our tribe’s secret training and hoarding of weapons—had she not, we might have perished a year ago. No, I never thought victory possible. But I know our defeat for a certainty now.
Our people had been slaughtered. And Mother was injured, cut deep in a place I’d seen kill warriors slowly. A wound I’d tended on many in the last year, in the healing tents where I'd honed my skills.
“What have I to fear?” My sister, Sorcha, said, her voice haughty as it often was when she was scared. She tugged her lean-muscled shoulders back, oblivious to the muck that still marred her skin from battle, now covered in a crust of dirt and sweat from our frenzied ride away from the field. Lost now. Everything and everyone lost. The Iceni, all shadows of the past . . . except for us. “We will hide in the mists. Raise a new army. We will come back at the Romans harder than before. We will make them live in fear.”
Mother looked at Sorcha as if wanting to believe her, but when she turned to me, her expression was guarded. “Yes. Perhaps you’re right. We need to keep running.”
We had been running since the battle's end yesterday, only stopping briefly to rest as night fell and continuing on as a blood-red dawn rose. Now another night was falling, and Sorcha had come up with a plan, a haphazard one. We would seek refuge and assistance in the north with Venutius, the estranged husband of Queen Cartimandua of the Brigantes. Since he didn’t support the Romans, he was the most likely ally we’d be able to find at a safe distance from the battlefield. At the very least, he could keep us hidden from Rome until mother was healed.
Mother attempted to mount her borrowed horse, refusing Sorcha’s help at first, though it was painfully obvious she needed the assistance.
“Mother,” I said softly, touching her shoulder.
A shuddering sigh of defeat escaped her. Not another word was exchanged, but she allowed both Sorcha and myself to lift her mighty body up onto the saddle. Sorcha mounted the prized mare of one of our warriors—that warrior was likely dead now. Andecarus was his name, and I heard Sorcha whisper it to the horse.
With a deep sigh, I climbed onto the saddle behind my mother. We had but two horses, and with the both of us sharing this one while Sorcha rode the other, it made the journey slower.
My muscles were sore. My head was heavy. My sister, strong and determined, sat tall before us. As the horse walked, every sway of my body jarred the aches in my bones. It was worse for my mother, who leaned over the withers of our mount. I gripped the reins around her middle when the leather slipped from her fingers. I had insisted on riding behind Mother; told her that as a brave fighter, I would take up the rear guard—but it wasn’t bravery. I was too afraid to be in the front with Sorcha. Too afraid that Sorcha would sense my fear that we had reached the end and call me a coward for thinking it.
Sorcha . . . My older sister was the most capable girl I’d ever met. Even before we’d both grown breasts, she was always the leader. Like Mother.

I'd hoped that I would become a warrior, too, since my father was one, and I looked like him. But I could barely cut a hunk of venison, let alone cut an enemy with a sword. My only skill seemed to be for the healing arts—at best, I'd make a budding priestess. Sorcha, now—she was a master with a blade.


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Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Historical Fiction Review & Giveaway: Spirit of the Highway by Deborah Swift

01_Spirit of the Highway

Spirit of the Highway (Highway Trilogy, Book II) by Deborah Swift

Publication Date: September 30, 2015
Endeavor Press eBook & Paperback;
292 Pages
 Genre: Historical Fiction/Young Adult
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England 1651.  England has been engaged in a bitter Civil War for nearly ten years. Ralph Chaplin, a farmer's son, has fallen for beautiful copper-haired Kate. There is only one problem -- he is a Roundhead soldier and she is a Royalist lady.

Tired of bloodshed, Ralph volunteers to fight, sensing that the Battle at Worcester will be a chance to finish the fighting for good. He longs for peace, so he can forge a secure future and find a different, more equal way of life for himself and Kate.

But war is not what he imagined, and soon he has made a deadly enemy; one who will pursue Ralph and those he loves, and wreak vengeance. What's more, Ralph finds he has just as many enemies at home, as on the battlefield.

Told by Ralph's ghost, Spirit of the Highway is the stand-alone second part of the Highway Trilogy based on the real life and legend of Lady Katherine Fanshawe, highwaywoman and heiress.


Praise for Deborah Swift

"The past comes alive through impeccable research, layers of intriguing plot line, an understanding of the complexities of 17th century politics and the sheer power of descriptive prose." -Lancashire Evening Post

"characters you can really get interested in" -The Mum website

Praise for Shadow on the Highway (Book One, Highway Trilogy)

"Shadow on the Highway is an awesome work of YA historical fiction. It is definitely my new favorite Deborah Swift book!" -So Many Books So Little Time Blog

"Swift brings layers of historical and imaginative detail to her stories and I highly recommend as a light read for any adult and for teenagers interested into foraying into historical fiction." -Hook of a Book Blog

"Shadow on the Highway is an exciting peek into the English Civil War from both sides of the fighting... I very much look forward to the next two books in this trilogy!" -Historical Tapestry

My Review

This was an intense and gripping tale about struggle with self, with love, with what is right and what is honorable. This is a different way of telling a story--the main character is a spirit. Perfect for the season!

Ralph is impulsive, and he's struggling with a bit of post-war issues, which most people who've seen what he's seen would. He is working on his anger, on being so quick to put up his fists, and in the end, he did manage to gather the will within himself not to do so, but it cost him greatly.

There were several characters in this story that I really despised: Downall, the Snopes, Ralph's sister Elizabeth, and Copthorne. Man did I really hate those guys. Ralph has so many people against him, and not enough on his side, which is mostly because of his impulsiveness, and his reckless behavior and way of thinking. Thank goodness for his good friend Cutch, his sister Abigail and Kate, his love, who are willing to stick their necks out for him time and again.

The book was fast-paced (I read it in two days), and filled with adventure and heartache. Though it is categorized as a YA Historical, I think it read well for an adult, too. I learned a lot about a time period I'm not familiar with--the Civil War in England. It was fascinating to learn about--all while being entertaining.

I did not read the first book in the series, and I don't think you have to (though I will be going back to read it). I can't wait to read the third installment, as the book sort of ends on a cliffhanger. I have to find out what happens to Kate and Abigail and Elizabeth!

02_Deborah SwiftAbout the Author

Deborah Swift is the author of three previous historical novels for adults, The Ladyís Slipper, The Gilded Lily, and A Divided Inheritance, all published by Macmillan/St Martinís Press, as well as the Highway Trilogy for teens (and anyone young at heart!). Her first novel was shortlisted for the Impress prize for new novelists. She lives on the edge of the beautiful and literary English Lake District - a place made famous by the poets Wordsworth and Coleridge.


Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, October 26
Guest Post at Passages to the Past

 Tuesday, October 27
Review at Book Nerd
Spotlight & Excerpt at Let Them Read Books

  Wednesday, October 28
Review at History From a Woman's Perspective

  Thursday, October 29
Review at With Her Nose Stuck in a Book

  Monday, November 2
Review at The Maiden's Court

  Tuesday, November 3
Spotlight & Excerpt at Brooke Blogs

  Thursday, November 5
Review at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf

  Friday, November 6
Review at Bookramblings
Review at Just One More Chapter
Guest Post at One Book Shy of a Full Shelf


To win a signed paperback of Spirit of the Highway please enter the giveaway via the GLEAM form below. Three copies up for grabs!


  • Giveaway ends at 11:59pm EST on November 6th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
  • Giveaway is open internationally.
  • Only one entry per household. 
  • All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion 
  • Winner has 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen. Spirit of the Highway

03_Spirit of the Highway_Blog Tour Banner_FINAL

Spotlight: Breton Wolfe by Victoria Vane


(A De Wolfe Pack Kindle worlds novella)

She swore to defy him to her dying breath... But passion blurs the line between love and hate...
The bluest blood and the hardest heart... at least when it comes to marriage... The daughter of a duke and granddaughter of a king, Adele of Vannes was bartered at birth in a marriage treaty for the sole purpose of producing a royal heir. When her philandering husband is slain by Norse marauders, she is coerced to wed again in order to protect her home and her people. Adele knows that her beloved Brittany needs a strong hand to survive, but how can she ever reconcile her bitterness and hatred with the desire she feels for her mortal enemy?
She’s the jewel he seeks for his Breton crown...A Barbarian bent on building a dynasty, Valdrik Vargr, ‘the Norse Wolf,’ is renowned for both his bravery in battle and shrewdness in statecraft. Setting his sights on claiming the kingdom of Brittany, he knows that siring sons from royal blood would solidify his hold, but the woman he would claim as his queen refuses to have him. Will he fuel her hatred by taking her to his bed, or will the man who strikes terror in the hearts of men be reduced to wooing his bride?

Purchase Links 


Adèle spent the night on her knees in prayer, gaze cast heavenward in supplication. She hadn’t dared to bow her head and shut her eyes for fear that sleep would overtake her. She couldn’t afford to be caught aware when the marauders came. And they would come. That was a certainty. Rudalt had never returned from his ‘Norse” hunt. None of them had returned. They were dead. She felt it down to her bones.

She’d dispatched riders to Cournailles but he was days away. He would never arrive in time. Her home would be burned to ashes before help ever came. Perhaps she could buy them off? Did she have enough silver and jewels to pay tribute? Or would the Norsemen simply extract their payment in woman’s flesh and men’s blood?

Her throat thickened at the sudden remembrance of her wedding night. She had borne Rudalt’s ravaging for years; surely she could survive it again. And survival was all she dared hope for. The Norse would come with their battle axes and siege machines. The Bretons might keep them at bay for a few hours or maybe a day, but penetration of their walls was inevitable. She had no true defenses outside of a few dozen archers. In his arrogance, Rudalt had taken the best warriors, leaving her defenseless.

From her bedchamber window, Adèle cast her gaze eastward where the sun was rising, painting the landscape of rolling hills in soft shades of pink and gold. She stared off into the distance, chewing her lip and willing her nerves to settle. Last night she’d worn holes in her slippers and bitten her fingernails to the quick. She now accepted that her fate was out of her hands. She had no choice but to entrust herself to the merciful will of God. If death awaited her, she prayed it would be swift.

Moving shadows appeared on the horizon. A moment later they took shape as a solid line of men. Hundreds of mounted men. But rather than shrinking in terror, a strange peace settled over her. She was the daughter of Judicael, a great warrior and Duke of Brittany. Her great-grandfather was Erispoe, the first proclaimed King of the Bretons. She would do as the father and grandfather had done before her—she would fight them to her dying breath.

Victoria Vane is a #1 bestselling author of smart and sexy contemporary Western romance and an award-winning author of erotic historical romance. Her books have received more than twenty awards and nominations to include the 2014 RONE Award for Treacherous Temptations and Library Journal Best E-Book romance of 2012 for The Devil DeVere series. Look for her scorching hot Hotel Rodeo series coming from Kensington/Lyrical Shine early 2016.

Connect with Victoria:
Email: victoria.vane@hotmail.com